Thursday, October 18, 2007

48 Laws of Browsing the Bookstore

Monday evening was spent browsing Barnes & Noble. Excited employee takes my interest in Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power as an opening to recommend specific translations of The Prince (Machiavelli), Life's A Campaign (Chris Matthews), and The Game. He seems a bit overeager, and rushes to get another copy of Laws (for me to carry around, I guess). Maybe there's a contest to sell the most copies of this book? Is it one of the laws to get me to buy it?

When he walks away, an attractive woman who witnessed the exchange whispers to me:
That guy always talks to me about books whenever I come in.
Really? After reading Self-Made Man, I want to translate for her that this is probably that guys way of hitting on her. But that's presumptuous of me. I wouldn't personally use the book discussion method, but ... Wait, I'd totally do that. In fact, let's take a tour of a bookstore! And we do.

Wandering upstairs, I see some old favorites from my youth. A Spell for Chameleon, Cyteen, Ender's Game. She swoons at my description of Cyteen: "There aren't any cybernetic teenagers in it." Swoon as in she looks indifferent. I still think the "clone the genius and re-create his/her life stresses to re-create the genius" is a cool plot. And she's read Ender's Game. Wow.

Biographies: Team of Rivals
Only later do I remember that I haven't actually finished it.

Amusing to read more of The Rules. I'd carefully wandered into the relationship section hoping to randomly see it an re-use my "rule 23 is don't date a married man! there were 22 more important rules!" joke, but she totally steals my thunder with the exact same joke! Maybe it's just not that original. Who cares, it was still hilarious!

Where's the science section? I want to push all my cool science reading:
The Botany of Desire, Collapse, Freakonomics, Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Oranges, The Tipping Point

Hot drinks and pumpkin cheesecake in the cafe. They've changed the recipe to be more about pumpkin spice instead of pumpkin. Still good, but not as good as it used to be.

Continuing the chat, and she's willing to talk. Time flies, and the announcement sounds that they're closing up. Wow. I wonder later if I should have been more flirtatious or maybe even gone for the physical contact. It hardly ever occurs to me in the moment. Maybe I should read Greene's other book, Art of Seduction, again. I'm never comfortable being that calculated.

Do we say something about "doing the bookstore" again? Maybe not, but we should have. I should have formally set something up with her. Darn.

Later, at home, I look though the 48 Laws, I'm struck by Law 45:
Preach the need for change, but never reform too much
Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day to day level people are creatures of habit. Too much innovation is traumatic, and will tend to lead to revolt. If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things. If change is necessary, make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past.
Nice. Sounds like every organization that everyone's ever belonged to. Quakers are definitely this way. :-)

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